Lent 2020 sample reflection - to give you an idea of what we did last year ...


This is a sample from last year's series. Please note that I plan to make this year's reflections a little shorter than this.

X Marks the Spot

A couple of entries for my gratitude diary.


First, the blossom’s coming out on my little plum tree. It’s only one single bloom so far, on a fragile, twiggy branch, but my cup overflows! Second, I've been playing catch each day in the garden with the kids. It's like we're catching up on something.

I'd have been less inclined to savour either during busyness-as-usual. The reason we don’t always find the X that marks the spot is because we were standing on it all along, as Barbara Brown Taylor says. The treasure’s here, at our feet.

But we can miss what’s in our own backyard because we often think we have to get out there to earn or buy or find a better version; what’s ‘local’ ends up seeming unremarkable, at best. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” asks Nathanael.

“Come and see,” says Philip.


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It’s tempting to want to rise above the local. Think how the word ‘parish’ has come to mean narrow-minded, sectarian, parochial. But hang on, says the writer Robert Macfarlane: it really means the opposite. Its boundary is not a perimeter but an aperture into the ‘whole’ of life contained within the smaller patch.

Ironically, in a lockdown, even a parish can start to feel big, and beyond reach. But there’s enough, even in our immediate vicinity, to sink our teeth, or roots, into. I'm encouraged by the poet Patrick Kavanagh, who says it's "a lifetime's experience” just to get to know one field or pathway well. “It is depth that counts, not width," he writes. Here is where we practise life. Here is where we start to deepen.

It’s been inspiring to see how ‘locals’ have responded, recently. I’ve marvelled at the way Rebecca, for instance, who runs the local deli, has turned her café into a home-delivery hub for sustainably sourced, local produce; she’s setting out by bike each day from there to serve her community, establishing a bit of a lifeline of love (and 50 per cent off for key workers!).


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God narrowed his options drastically, of course, by becoming human, and limiting himself to a time and place, to a backwater parish of the world, if you like. Jesus showed us what you can do with little resource; with loaves and fish. We find him often in wilderness spaces and out-of-the-way places, taking ordinary people further up and further in, with parables of mustard seeds, and budding trees, and fields of hidden treasure…

Lockdown may feel like a tight perimeter, but what if it’s an aperture small enough for wonder’s light to pour through, once again. Can anything good come from this place we’re in, right now? Perhaps we can, in God's grace.

Come and see.


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